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Photo Essay: Using Ill-Fated Buildings for Art in Seattle
Sarah Kuck, 15 Oct 08

Temporary Art Installation Keeps Blocks Being Prepped for Demolition Alive

If we're going to make the big infrastructure changes we need to see in cities around the world, there will be some awkward growth spurts to work through. Here in Seattle -- just steps from the Worldchanging HQ, in fact -- we're proud to report on one solution that turns growing pains into a resource.

We've been noticing some changes to the neighborhood: the Jack In The Box burger joint is boarded up, and the Vivace coffeehouse overlooking Cal Anderson Park has moved north a few blocks. Sound Transit purchased these properties and others (18 buildings in all) to make room for the new light rail station, which will be built underneath Broadway Avenue (construction is slated to start in early 2009).

The empty storefronts, awaiting jackhammers and demolition crews, would have been eyesores that discouraged activity a typically lively area. But in a stroke of genius they call the STart program, Sound Transit offered up these vacant storefront windows to local artists willing to create temporary installations.

The two blocks of mind-bending projects beginning on the corner of John and Broadway are meant to capture the spirit of Capitol Hill and to encourage passersby to engage with the art. (For a more detailed map of where to find which STart on Broadway displays click here.)

The pieces are diverse. Some are whimsical, others political or thought provoking, and some are downright gorgeous. But they all have one thing in common -- they demand attention. And they deserve it:

STart%20Sennhauser%26Rockwell.jpg
Photo credit: Nicholas Lynch

Jodi Rockwell & Toi Sennhauser - Body Jewelry Plus (north)
TRANSPULSE


STart%20%20Stein%26Sullivan%287%29_1.jpg
Photo credit: Christian French

Robin Stein & Perrin Teal Sullivan - US Bank (south)
REMAINS OF HILLS


STart%20CDacre%287%29_1.jpg
Photo credit: Christian French

Chris Dacre - Chamber of Commerce/KT Imports
WAR IS FUN


STart%20CFrench2.jpg
Photo credit: Nicholas Lynch

Christian French - India Imports
DOCTRINE OF THE VOID


STart%20JCarroll%287%29_1.jpg
Photo credit: Christian French

Jennifer Carroll - Ace Barber
SKY DANCE


STart%20JPuccinelli1%287%29_1.jpg
Photo credit: Christian French

Jason Puccinelli - T&T Hair Salon


STart%20JWharton1.jpg
Photo credit: Nicholas Lynch

Julia Wharton - Breezeway between buildings


STart%20Potts%26Phillipsen.jpg
Photo credit: Nicholas Lynch

Susan Phillipsen & Tyler Potts - Hour Eyes
LINK LIGHT LOOP


STart%20TMarsden%287%29_1.jpg
Photo credit: Nicholas Lynch

Tim Marsden - Makeovers
WHEN THE REVOLUTION COMES...


Involving local artists with the construction of this new chapter of life for the Capitol Hill neighborhood was a fitting move. If this temporary art display is any indication of things to come, we can start to look forward to fresh and innovative art that will soon surround the station.

In a city like Seattle especially, where many residents turn wary eyes toward increasing density (and urbanity in general), we think it's a wise move to integrate the new light rail stations into their surrounding neighborhoods in a way that makes them into community amenities we can appreciate for their function and form. We hope to see more creative and community-oriented solutions like this in the future helping to preserve authentic local culture as neighborhoods grow and change.

COI: Christian French, a former artist-in-residence with Sound Transit and the curator of this series, is a Worldchanging friend and ally.

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